I don't occasionally mind the odd call up to do media work on the weekends. Channel 10 News airing an important story today related to non-work-related Internet use in the workplace and what it is doing to employee productivity and what it is costing businesses in real terms. Kimberley Pratt from Channel 10 got in contact early this morning to see if I would be interested to cover the story. A little difficult on a Sunday morning but said I could make myself available by 1.30pm, but there was no film crew available for that timeslot.
Last year several University of Tasmania academics reported an opinion piece to the ABC based on a 273 person survey. They wrote:
"Cyberloafing — engaging in non-work online activities while "on the clock" — is a modern form of counterproductive workplace behaviour.
Rather than stealing company goods, the modern work environment with its various digital devices easily allows many employees to essentially steal company time.
Cyberloafing can lack malicious intent, but not always.
In fact, in our study, we found cyberloafing can be associated with everyday levels of "dark" personality traits and a perceived ability to get away with it."
Here is some advice for employers, although I do not endorse this kind of surveillance as it does not give the individual an ability to rehabilitate, it is simply workplace monitoring. My issue with this kind of telecommunications monitoring advice has to do with blanket coverage surveillance when only about 1% of the employees are causing the damage.
Here is some advice for what employees should NEVER do on their work computer.
It seems a lot of employers are getting tougher with their IT Acceptable Use Policy as costs related to Internet downloads and costs to productivity are being calculated as significant expenditures.
Kimberley sent through the following stats from an article that appeared in the Daily Telegraph:
- 42% are checking their phones 7 times per day.
- 5.2% admit to being distracted 15 times per day.
- 92% are spending up to 90 minutes of work time scrolling their feeds.
- It takes 23 minutes to return to the same level of concentration following distraction.
If the film crew had been available, I would have spoken about the following things, taken verbatim from articles I have previously written on the topic.
Barring sleep, we have just 16 hours each day to live our conscious lives. If we spend 11 of them online, at a console, or in a game, that's 69% of our waking lives. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of screen time . Even those figures may underreport the problem. A recent study from comScore and Jumptap shows total U.S. Internet use nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 451 billion minutes to 890 billion minutes .
Most of us legitimately require screen time for work, but we often get stuck there. How many times have we said, “I'm just going to check my email, or update my professional profile, or play one more quick round of this game,” only to find ourselves, stiff and aching, two hours later, with papers ungraded, chores undone, and dinner unmade? And even though we recognize this, we keep repeating the cycle.
This tendency to be time-sucked by our devices seems to be a universal feature of the technology, experienced by all cultures that have adopted it. It's not just South Korea and China, but all of us who are allowing our real lives to fade into secondary importance as we spend ever more time locked-in by the always-on, ever beckoning digital world. Filmmaker Shlam gets it right when she warns that “something is getting lost” in our physical, real, everyday lives.
The productivity void of all these wasted hours is already beginning to alarm U.S. employers, as analysts bemoan that employees spend one quarter of their online time at the office on non-work related Internet surfing, thus squandering an average of five hours per week . Yet where are the experts calculating the loss of quality parenting hours? Marriage hours? Study hours? Playing, tinkering, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, music-making, lovemaking, stargazing, living hours ?
- FOMO (fear of missing out)
- FOBO (fear of being off the grid)
- Nomophobia (the fear of being without a mobile phone).
At work, 60 to 80 percent of the time on the Internet is non-work-related, and consumes on average nearly one quarter of a worker’s day.
Whether online seeking information or entertainment, we all browse. Why? It’s easy! In the middle of serious research we can be inspired by one questionable sentence to leap to another source, then another, and another, hoping to assemble a logical solution to the issue we are researching. And, frankly, we wonder how any single source can be the “best” one—accurate, complete, etc. We are also prompted to source-hop when we suspect what we believed to be an unbiased discussion is in fact a commercial in disguise. Rabbit holes.
She said young people needed to balance their technology use with some form of physical or real-life social activity.
Part-time work can also be helpful in reducing the amount of time available to spend on social media.
We need to replace some of this addiction behaviour with real physical activity in the real world.
Work-related accidents pertaining to mobiles and tablets are increasing.
Some of most connected countries in the world have researchers that have developed scales to identify addiction/overuse. University of Bergin in Norway, Facebook addiction scale; you have Smartphone Addiction Scale in South Korea etc
Yet, alarmingly, one recognized industry report, “Digital Down Under,” stated that 13.4 million Australians spent a whopping 18.8 h a day online . This statistic has been contested but commensurately backed by Lee Hawksley, managing director of ExactTarget Australia, who oversaw the research. She has gone on record saying, “...49% of Australians have smartphones, which means we are online all the time…from waking to sleep, when it comes to e-mail, immersion, it’s even from the 18–65s; however, obviously with various social media channels the 18–35s are leading the charge.”
According to the same study, roughly one-third of women living in New South Wales are spending almost two-thirds of their day online. And it is women who are 30% more likely to suffer anxiety as a result of participating in social media than men –. This is even greater than the Albrecht and Michael deduction of 2014, which estimated that people in developed nations are spending an average of 69% of their waking life behind the screen . That is about 11 h behind screens out of 16 waking hours. But, no doubt, people are no longer sleeping 8 h with access to technology at arm’s reach within the bedroom, and, as a result, cracks are appearing in relationships, employment, severe sleep deprivation, and other areas as a result of screen dependencies .
Internet-enabled television (e.g., Netflix), play stations (for video games), desktops (for browsing), tablets (for pictures and editing), and smartphones (for social media messaging)
In 1999, a multinational company I worked for, dismissed 25 employees, some of them senior executives, for having cyberporn on their work computers. The majority of individuals engaged in this were located in the US with only one individual identified in Asia.
I also noted to Kimberley: the stats are accurate- I would say the overall figures would be even higher. From memory, 24% of Internet-related time is on non-work related things. People are heavily distracted. The distraction is allowed because allegedly it makes people more productive. I don't buy into the latter. We have a fractured workforce as a result of everything now being online- banking, bill paying, kids school reports and absence and excursion permission notes, blah blah blah...
Addicts are 'obvious'- they disappear from sight for large blocks of time feigning the need for an early lunch break or "emergency". Facebook and Instagramming (both owned by same company) are the most toxic. Instant messaging has usurped emailing and even texting...
For men, the issue is online gaming/Tindering at work rather than social media like Facebook for women. In my 22 years in the workplace I've seen everything from one woman printing out in high definition color her wedding invitations to hundreds of guests, to bruised knuckles on pointer fingers from the constant social media scrolling, to people who turn up to work some days completely out of it because they've been up all night "searching" rabbit holes and who are otherwise great employees.